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Access to Public Records & Proceedings

We are nationally known for representing media companies in fighting for access to public documents and information. Our media lawyers regularly are hired to handle complicated access matters that arise in high-profile court proceedings, which have included the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil cases, the Scott Peterson murder trial, the Menendez brothers trial, the Tyco corruption trial in New York, the Barry Bonds perjury trial (juror questionnaires) and the Constitutional challenge to California’s Prop 8 (both broadcast trial coverage and the sealed video of the trial proceedings), among many others.

Recently, we have sought public access in California to the pension information of retired public employees, the names of police officers who have shot and killed citizens while on duty, and significant legislative budget information. On the federal level, we obtained the first public release of information about the federal government’s secret use of the "no fly" and "selectee" watch lists to screen passengers after 9/11, documents revealing the widespread contamination of water wells on Navajo reservations from uranium mining, and access to 8,000 pages of records shedding light on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) global terrorist watch list used by the US Treasury Department. Our work assisting clients in their newsgathering efforts goes far beyond high-profile court cases. We routinely assist clients across the country in obtaining access to court and public records and proceedings. We have extensive experience with federal and state public records laws and open-meetings laws, and have litigated cases involving these statutes numerous times—often obtaining substantial fee awards for our clients.

Our depth of experience enables us to appear in court on a moment’s notice to argue in favor of courtroom cameras, to seek the unsealing of documents, or to oppose requests for closed proceedings. We have successfully established precedential case law that our clients can use in future access fights.

Our extensive contacts with a wide variety of media companies have enabled us to initiate what is now a standard practice of putting together coalitions to share the expense of access-related litigation.

In short, we are known as the First Amendment firm involved in fighting for press and public access.

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